The Quick 10: 10 Trademarked Colors
Thinking about starting a chocolate company and using a rich purple hue for the wrappers? Think again - there’s already a lock on that color. If you’ve ever seen something like, “The color puce is a trademark of Puce Panther” stamped on a product and wondered how a company can call dibs on a chunk of the rainbow - well, they can. Sort of. You can paint your house Tiffany Blue with T-Mobile Magenta polka dots (though I wouldn’t recommend it) and neither company would have a leg to stand on in court, but if you started selling jewelry in Tiffany Blue Boxes or tried to market cell phones using T-Mobile Magenta... well, then you might have a problem. Here are 10 companies and the colors they’ve claimed.
1. Green-gold, Qualitex. Qualitex v. Jacobson Products CO., Inc., is what put colormarking on the map. Qualitex used the unique color blend for their dry cleaning presses (pictured - pretty distinct, right?). In 1989, competitor Jacobson began using the exact same shade, allegedly to more easily confuse companies into buying their product instead. Qualitex won the resulting lawsuit, and thus colormarking was born.
2. Tiffany Blue, of course, is one of the most famous colors in the world.
3. Target Red
4. Cadbury Purple. But it took them more than 10 years to earn that right and prove people associated that color specifically with Cadbury products.
5. Barbie Pink is trademarked for use in more than 100 categories, from bubble bath to cereal.
6. Home Depot Orange
7. T-Mobile Magenta. T-Mobile got a little overzealous with their colormark, threatening to sue Engadget Mobile for using the color, even though there’s certainly little danger of anyone confusing the two. Then they sued an actual cell phone company for using a pretty similar shade. Not only did they lose the lawsuit against Telia, a Swedish brand, but T-Mobile was also ordered to pay all of Telia’s court costs. The reason? The two don’t compete in the same market, so the colormark wasn’t recognized.
8. Wiffle Ball Yellow ("as applied to plastic bats").
9. UPS Brown. What can Brown do for you? They’ll slap you with a lawsuit if you infringe on their trademark tint. When the Law Offices of Samuel Z. Brown used a shade similar to that the mail service uses, they issued a cease-and-desist. That was in 2008, but I’m guessing the case is still tied up in court, because the site still looks like this and he’s still using the phrase “Put Brown to Work for You.”
10. Coca-Cola Red
Any other color trademarks to add to the list?